Meet Patrick Glace, living kidney donor. Patrick lives in Raleigh and became a donor in October 2019 at age 29.
If you'd have told me 10 years ago that one day I'd be a living kidney donor, I probably wouldn't believe you. I've always been a strong proponent of organ donation - I've actually been a registered organ donor since I was 18 and registered in three states (Florida, where I grew up, Pennsylvania where I attended college, and finally, North Carolina). But I always envisioned those who were living donors as larger than life, people so committed to giving that I couldn't possibly rise to that level. What I learned most through my living donor journey is that you can just be regular person who decides to make a difference. You don't have to be driven by a calling or religious belief - you don't have to be perfect. All you have to be is open to the idea and willing to accept some risk. And to me, the benefit far outweighed the risks.
Did you know your recipient?
I did know my recipient - my uncle, mentor and friend, Tim Glace. This obviously had a strong influence on my decision to donate. But knowing what I know now, I encourage anyone considering the idea - whether its directed or non-directed - to learn and speak to people who have first hand experience. My chief concern was compromising my quality of life and long-term health, but I'm pleased to share with anyone that my day-to-day is nearly unchanged. If anything, I've developed healthier habits that make life more enjoyable.
Do you remember the day of your surgery? What was it like?
Yes, of course. I spent the prior 24 hours prepping with minimal food intake and a lot of fluids. Tim and I actually rode to the hospital together and did our surgery prep side-by-side. I was anxious, but I felt an overwhelming calm that I had made my decision and was in expert care. My surgery took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I had the privilege of having my parents, extended family, and my girlfriend, Brittaney, by my side both before my surgery and during my initial recovery.
How was your recovery? What did you learn through the process?
Thanks to Brittaney, my recovery was incredibly smooth. After about two weeks in Pittsburgh, we flew home to Raleigh and I began resuming minimal activity and some independence. I took 6 weeks off to fully recover, and by February of 2020, I was playing golf and traveling like normal. What I did discover through the recovery process is how fortunate I am to have my health and independence. For most of my life - and for many people, I imagine - I took my health for granted. I developed patience through the process and a newfound appreciation for the small things in life.
What would you like people considering living donation to know?
I think most of all, I'd like people to realize that you don't have to be a saint to become a living donor. I'd also like people to know that it's not a straight line to the decision. It’s a process, and sometimes you don't get to the answer for a few weeks or even months. If you're young and think, "Well I like to go out and have a good time, or my career won't allow me to take the time off," take some time to learn more about living donation and your decision may become clearer. There is no single path to donation.
Is there a message or statement you’d like to make sure that we include or highlight in our feature on your journey?
Giving the gift of life is one of the most cathartic experiences you can have. The personal joy you experience is only exceeded by the positive impact you've had on someone's life. I try to encourage people not to treat life like the couch you're afraid to sit on. Personally, I'd like to roll into the next one on two wheels with nothing more to give.
Why, in your opinion, should everyone register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor (even if they can't be a living donor)?
Absolutely. It's life-changing and leaves an incredibly legacy for generations.